Podcaster: Richard Drumm
Organization: Astrosphere New Media
Description: Space scoop, news for children.
Bio: Richard Drumm is President of the Charlottesville Astronomical Society and President of 3D – Drumm Digital Design, a video production company with clients such as Kodak, Xerox and GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals. He was an observer with the UVa Parallax Program at McCormick Observatory in 1981 & 1982. He has found that his greatest passion in life is public outreach astronomy and he pursues it at every opportunity.
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This is 365 Days of Astronomy. Today we bring you a new episode in our Space Scoop series. This show is produced in collaboration with Universe Awareness, a program that strives to inspire every child with our wonderful cosmos.
How Long Do Stars Last?
Answer: Stars live different lengths of time, depending on how massive they are.
Imagine how strange it would be if members of your family aged at different rates. If your brother or sister looked like they were seventy years old, but your grandparents still looked as young as teenagers.
This would be very unusual for people but it is really common for stars. All stars age at different rates, depending on how massive they are at the start their lives.
The stars in this photograph are part of an open star cluster called NGC 3293, containing around 50 stars that were all born around the same time. The cluster itself is less than 10 million years old – just a baby on cosmic scales! (Especially if you consider that our own Sun is 4.6 billion years old and only in the middle of its life.)
Each star in this cluster is much more massive than our own. Take the largest orange star at the bottom right of the photograph. This is a gigantic Red Giant star, around six and a half times larger than the Sun!
Red Giants are stars that are nearing the end of their lives, even though this star’s actual age is much less than our Sun’s. Since all the stars in this cluster are thought to have formed at the same time, it is interesting that this star appears to have flown through the phases of its life much quicker than its youthful blue siblings.
The reason this star is ageing faster than the others is that it is more massive and hotter than the others. This means that the star burns brighter, using up its fuel faster than the rest its siblings of the cluster.
Star clusters like this one can contain up to a few thousand stars. Two astronomers recently created a picture to demonstrate what our night sky would look like if our Solar System were inside a star cluster! Take a look at their image: tinyurl.com/starcluster
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365 Days of Astronomy
The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is produced by Astrosphere New Media. Audio post-production by Richard Drumm. Bandwidth donated by libsyn.com and wizzard media. You may reproduce and distribute this audio for non-commercial purposes. Please consider supporting the podcast with a few dollars (or Euros!). Visit us on the web at 365DaysOfAstronomy.org or email us at info@365DaysOfAstronomy.org. In the new year the 365 Days of Astronomy project will be something different than before….Until then…goodbye